• April 9, 2016

Salty With A Side of Spoilers – Why I Don’t Read Reviews

Salty With A Side of Spoilers – Why I Don’t Read Reviews

781 475 Greg Dragon | Author

If you love my books, please, leave a review so that I can sell more.

If you have a critique that you actually want me to see, send me an email.

Reviews… Old topic, my take. Reviews are weird. For new, unknown, writers like myself, reviews are like garnish for a well-prepared meal. They are opinions, from people who are brave enough to put their thoughts out there, and they hold little weight one way or another when it comes to strangers trying our book. BUT, if you want to get on the sites that do email promotions, you will have to maintain a 4.0 average, and a high number of reviews.

You know how up-and-coming musicians have to ship around their demos, begging for people to listen? That’s what writers are forced to do with Amazon’s review section. The most popular promo sites for this sort of marketing won’t even look at your book unless it’s sporting 20+ reviews. Think about it … now consider how many times you’ve actually reviewed a book.

So, as with everything else in life, the rich get richer when it comes to having a popular book that meets reader expectations. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to stay on the positive side of things despite writing from the top of my head as opposed to dissecting bestsellers and making a creative clone. BUT, I’ve had to panhandle my ass off for the few reviews I do have. Getting them isn’t as easy as simply asking or writing a kick-ass book. You have to be lucky enough to stumble across the type of reader that reviews.

Reviews are for marketing … unfortunately

The issue that comes with this however is the vulnerability that new authors have with being held to this easily exploited metric. Promo sites have driven many authors to:

  • Purchase reviews for high prices (against the rules everywhere, but so was selling liquor in the 40’s)
  • Beg friends and family
  • Exchange reviews with other authors
  • Create sock puppet accounts with false information in order to review
  • Get into review rings on secret Facebook groups or forums to inflate numbers quickly
  • The list goes on and on and on

Essentially, to be a boss, some are forced to become Sean “P.Diddy” Combs: “NOT GUILTY, and I’m filthy, c’mon…”

None of this has anything to do with you, the reader. This push. This need to qualify is what we have done to ourselves as an industry since eBooks exploded on to the market. It’s the game. And while some claim to be the purest paladins in selling books organically, many–who are struggling–will look to the dark side in order to fight the void of obscurity. Using reviews as a way to gauge the marketability of a book is a flawed, lazy, tactic and continues to force good people into bad positions.

But Greg, as a reader I know that reviews are valuable. Y U NO READ?

Listen. The best review I’ve gotten for Single Wired Female came by way of email. Someone wrote me and told me that he hated how I ended the book. It was a lengthy email, but it was right there, forcing me to eat his disappointment. It was wonderful. I got it, it stuck, I know why some people (like him) will dislike the way I ended it. BUT, had it been posted on Amazon.com, I wouldn’t see it. There’s a reason why I don’t read reviews there. It’s an overly gamed, confusing, painful experience that jacks up my writing.

When I get an email, I know who it’s from. I can associate a person with the feedback, instead of (let’s say for argument’s sake) an author’s alias, posing as a concerned reviewer, with a less than positive view of my book. Reading those things can affect me. It becomes creative poison. In order for me to continue to grow and become better at this, the critique needs to be on the personal level. From workshops. From beta exchanges with genre readers and editors. Not to mention,  a review left on Amazon is for other readers, not the author. SO, PLEASE, DO NOT POST SPOILERS!

I still don’t read reviews when I’m the reader

As a reader–and I read A LOT–I don’t look at the star rating on books. I know the inner workings of that metric, and I know that certain authors will one-star competitors (yes, we have sociopathic snipers in writing too). I also know that certain bloggers will crush a newbie’s spine in order to seem more legit to their audience. Having blogged heavily for ten-odd years, I know that game too. I know it well. People who love a writer, regardless of a book’s faults, will give it five stars, and then you have people who will read one page, decide that they hate your author picture, and one star you for it. Thems the breaks. But that means the feedback is hard to guage… and I don’t have the patience to wade through the “book sucks, DNF,” or “terrible book buy mine” reviews to find the one that actually tells me what I need to know in order to make my choice.

Do I read reviews before I make a purchase? No, never have. But I leave a review if I loved the book – that way I know that the popular promo sites will allow that author to advertise. See my point? What a terrible metric to gauge a book from.

Anyway. Thanks for reading. If you’ve reviewed my books and/or other new writers’ books in the past, positively ;), I salute you. What I’ve said may be a shocking eye-opener to you, but understand that this is why so many authors beg you to leave a review. Just please … no spoilers.